The fynbos research is centered around the gene bank which is a unique collection of living plants, identified for their economic horticultural traits as well as representing biodiversity in the species. This genetic material is maintained

and used in the breeding program. The aim of the breeding program is to improve characteristics as required by the fresh flower markets. Results from the breeding program are released as cultivars to the industry often with plant breeders rights.

Pathology research for identification and description of fungal diseases on fynbos, correlating this with other protea growing areas is well under way. Fynbos information is supplied through training courses, information days and open days. Many small-scale farmers are entering the Protea cut flower industry.

Many pathogens infecting indigenous crops are unknown, and this project deals with identifying and describing these organisms. Few fungicides are presently registered for the control of some of these diseases. This project investigates not only the value of various fungicides in the control of some of these diseases, but also resistant cultivars for host-use patterns. Fungal diseases remain an important field of research extending to crops other than floriculture fynbos. A diagnostic service supports this project.

The generated research information is disseminated in the form of presentations, training courses, consultation services, scientific publications, (specialized information), popular articles, demonstrations, exhibitions and posters. Research data and information is assimilated and presented in an appropriate and suitable manner in order to ensure that producers and other interested parties are informed about the latest research trends and results. Distribution of products by means of clonal cultivar material fulfills a need identified by the fynbos industry. The Proteaceae breeding program was initiated (1974) to develop superior, clonal propagated cultivars of fynbos plants mostly used as floriculture products. The first cultivar, Protea repens, "Guerna" was released in 1978. In 1990, reproduction biology research was introduced.

The scientific understanding of insect pests, fungal diseases and the use of biological control have been investigated. The ARC diagnostic centre at Stellenbosch is a valuable asset to the protea industry.


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